Veterans Day Leave – What Employers Should Know

Employees who are veterans as defined by Oregon law and are scheduled to work on Veterans Day may ask for that day off. They must provide 21 days’ notice of their intent to take the day off and document their status as a qualifying veteran.

Upon receipt of the request, an employer must determine whether providing the time off would cause “significant economic or operational disruption,” or whether allowing time off is an “undue hardship” as described in Oregon discrimination law. If so, the employer is not required to provide the day off.

At least 14 days before Veterans Day the employer must tell the employee whether time off will be provided and whether it will be paid or unpaid.

If an employer decides not to provide the time off to one veteran, the employer must deny time off to all employees who requested time off for Veterans Day or deny time off to the minimum number of employees necessary to avoid significant economic or operational disruption or an undue hardship.

The employer must allow any qualified veteran denied Veterans Day off to choose, with the employer’s approval, a single day off within the year after Veterans Day on which the employee worked as a replacement.

What should employers do?

There are no notice requirements under the law, but employers should review their policies in light of the new law and amend their employee handbook as appropriate.

Employers should also establish an internal policy for dealing with Veterans Day off requests. This policy should include a method to intake requests and respond no later than 14 days before Veterans Day. In addition, employers should create a process to ensure that employees who are denied the requested Veterans Day off, are offered and allowed the opportunity to take another day off within the appropriate time period.

What to remember

This Bill had exceptionally broad support in the Oregon Legislature, not surprising given its focus on veterans of the U.S. armed services. Although it provides for a day off, paid or unpaid, for veterans, it does relieve employers of the obligation to provide a specific day off and allows employers to meet their business needs. The primary burden imposed by this new law will likely be administrative, determining veterans status, keeping track of who has asked for Veterans day leave, providing a timely response, and providing delayed Veterans Day leave where necessary.